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Morning markets: crops gain heart from Italy rescue talk

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Is that adage about a poor Thanksgiving for crop investors meaning Christmas will be firm going to come true this time?

Agricultural commodities certainly put a better foot forward on Monday, headed, notably, by

oats

, which have a reputation as Chicago's leading indicator, and added 1.5% to $2.96 ½ a bushel for December delivery, as of 08:00 GMT.

The better-traded March lot gained 2.1% to $2.93 a bushel.

Better mood

The grain tried to inject strength in the last session, only to have its efforts undermined by a downgrade to Belgium's credit rating, following cuts to ratings of Hungary and Portugal too.

But this time oats had, so far, eurozone sentiment behind them, with reports that the International Monetary Fund is putting together a $600bn rescue package for Italy encouraging a "risk on" feel.

The safe haven of the

dollar

, retreated, falling 0.5% against a basket of currencies.

Equities

gained, by 1.6% in Tokyo, 2.2% in Seoul and 1.9% in Sydney.

London

copper

gained, soaring 3% earlier on, while Brent

crude

added 1.3% to stand just under $108 a barrel.

Corn rebounds

Against this background, the default position for agricultural commodities was upward, both in China, where

corn

for May added 1.1% to 2,180 yuan a tonne on the Dalian exchange, and in Chicago, where the best-traded March lot gained 1.0% to $5.96 a bushel.

The near-term December lot did even better, adding 1.2% to $5.89 ½ a bushel.

Not that this is enough yet to get too excited about:

"The first hurdle is for spot corn to get back up and close over the psychologically important $6.00 a bushel," Mike Mawdsley at broker Market 1 noted.

"Downside projects $5.36-5.06 a bushel if the slide can't stop."

'A little more optimistic'

Wheat

had the backing of Friday's better-than-expected weekly US export sales data too,

"Wheat fundamentals look a little more optimistic," Lynette Tan at Phillip Futures said.

"The US Department of Agriculture reported export sales of all varieties of US wheat in the latest week at 614,500 tonnes, the most in nine weeks and above trader estimates ranging from 300,000 to 450,000 tonnes. South Korea and China were the top importers."

She also flagged the downgrade, if of a modest 1m tonnes to 683m tonnes, on Thursday to the International Grains Council's estimates for world wheat output.

Dampness damage

Meanwhile, in Australia, rain continues to dog the harvest in some eastern areas, signalling some quality, if not quantity, issues ahead.

Some growers have received nearly 8 inches of rain in the past week, with more forecast.

Chicago soft red wheat for December added 1.0% to $5.80 a bushel, with the March lot up the same at $5.94 ½ a bushel.

Higher protein Kansas hard red winter wheat gained 1.1% to $6.50 ½ a bushel for December and 1.0% to $6.60 ½ a bushel for March.

Chinese imports

Soybeans

rebounded too from a 13-month closing low, adding 0.9% to $11.16 a bushel for January delivery.

US weekly export data for the oilseed too were strong, while China's Ministry of Commerce on Monday reminded of the country's firming import needs, pegging buy-ins at 5.63m tones.

That is higher than the 5.5m-tonne forecast from the CNGOIC crop bureau on Friday, besides last month's actual figure of 3.81m tonnes.

And in New York,

cotton

edged 0.1% higher to 90.40 cents for December and 0.6% to 91.40 cents a pound for March, after the US export sales data revealed continued strong demand from China, at least, for the fibre too.

More selling ahead?

Still, there is still plenty of time for an early rally to fade, as has happened before in recent sessions.

An unexpected eurozone occurrence is a likely source of concern.

Another was noted by Kim Rugel at Benson Quinn Commodities, who noted that investor redemptions in the ag indices have been large with headlines turning bearish.

"These indices only allow month-end withdrawals which, with the index funds excessively long the ags, could signal big selling come December 1 and could have the speculative trade setting up short positions ahead of anticipated liquidation.

"Weakness will remain in the market till definitive action is taken by EU leaders to address their debt crisis."

By Agrimoney.com

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